Originally Posted Online: March 25, 2013, 11:30 pm
Last Updated: March 26, 2013, 12:01 am

Illinois girls fall for first time in 9 seasons

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By Steve Tappa, stappa@qconline.com

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
United Township's Jamie VanWatermeulen looks to the basket as Pleasant Valley's Lexi Spelhaug follows the play during the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Basketball Showcase at Augustana College in Rock Island on Monday, March 25, 2013.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Prophetstown's Cassie Reiley shoots three-point baskets as Galesburg's Jessica Lieber passes her the balls during the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Basketball Showcase three-point contest at Augustana College in Rock Island on Monday, March 25, 2013.

Cassie Reiley earned some long-distance redemption Monday at the Iowa-Illinois Senior All-Star Basketball Showcase.

However, the Prophetstown sharpshooter's final 3-point attempt as a prep missed the mark, and Team Illinois just missed a ninth straight victory in the 14th annual event, falling 74-73 at Augustana College's Carver Center.

"It's tough to take a loss like that, especially by one point," said the St. Ambrose-bound Reiley. "We had a lot on our shoulders. We had a shot at the end."

However, Reiley's desperation half-court heave failed to find the rim at the buzzer three seconds after Pleasant Valley's Chloe Miller missed her second front end of a one-and-one free throw in the final 40 seconds.

Team Illinois also committed a pair of late turnovers after Alleman's Zoe Kelso scored five of her team-high 13 points in the final 97 ticks, drawing Lincoln Land within the final score with 46.4 seconds showing.

"They came out really strong, and toward the end of the game we let it slip," Riverdale's Hannah Nimrick said. "With one day to practice, we never worked on last-minute plays, so that was hard.

"I missed a big layup and a big 3-pointer late, too, so I guess it's all on me," Nimrick added as a joke.

Indeed, while Illinois lost for only the fourth time in the girls' game history, all was far from lost for the participants in a thriller featuring a pair of ties and eight lead changes.

"From a small school, it was fun to come out and play with the big school players," said Nimrick, a Class 2A All-State pick, deciding between Monmouth, Millikin and Dubuque to play both basketball and volleyball in college. "We always wanted to play against these girls, so getting to play with them was a lot of fun, and it was fun to play one last time with Cass."

Reiley also earned some local bragging rights by winning both the girls' and co-ed titles in the 3-point contest. Reiley, who had a state title bid denied in the same skill last month, shot past both Wethersfield's Sarah Hansen and Davenport North's Blaine Samuelson.

"I had a little mishap at Redbird Arena (in the state finals), when one of my balls got stuck (in the net), so I was up for some redemption, and I got that with my victory here," Reiley said. "It was neat, to come from one of the smallest schools in the area, to beating the boys' champ. That made it a little sweeter.

"It was a great honor. I was very blessed to be here. Not many small-town girls get this chance, but I was able to hang out there, and that gives me high hopes for college."

Kelso (13 points, 6 rebounds), Nimrick (11 points, 5 rebounds) and Galesburg's Jessica Lieber (10 points) were the leading scorers for Illinois.

Iowa got a game-high 18 points from MVP Emily Soy of North Scott, plus a double-double from Assumption's 3-time Iowa state champ Kate Fennelly (11 points, 12 rebounds). Miller also finished with 14 points for the Hawkeye state team.

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Iowa 74, Illinois 73

ILLINOIS (10-4)

Brewer 1-5 4-7 3 4 6, Gerard 3-5 2-2 0 9 9, Reiley 2-10 3-4 3 2 7, Lieber 3-14 2-3 2 1 10, Kelso 4-10 5-7 6 4 13, Twing 2-5 1-2 0 6 6, Hansen 1-8 0-0 0 5 2, Bohnert 1-3 0-0 0 1 2, Jam.VanWatermeulen 1-4 1-2 2 2 3, Nimrick 3-11 3-4 2 5 11, Allen 0-3 0-0 0 4 0, Daggett 1-4 2-2 0 6 4. Totals 22-82 23-33 16 59 73.

IOWA (4-10)

Tuttle 4-15 1-2 4 6 9, Miller 6-11 2-5 4 6 14, Soy 7-12 3-5 0 1 18, Boffeli 1-6 1-2 0 4 3, Fennelly 4-8 0-0 0 12 11, Spelhaug 2-6 0-0 2 0 6, Carl 2-5 0-0 3 1 4, Pavlich 0-2 0-0 2 9 0, Hoelting 1-4 0-0 2 5 2, Bell 3-7 1-2 2 10 7, Kimsey 0-4 0-0 1 6 0. Totals 30-80 8-16 20 64 74.

Halftime: Illinois 40-36. 3-pointers: IL 6-25 (Nimrick 2-6, Lieber 2-4, Gerard 1-3, Twing 1-3, Hansen 0-4, Jam.VanWatermeulen 0-2, Brewer 0-2, Reiley 0-1), IA 6-24 (Fennelly 3-6, Spelhaug 2-6, Soy 1-4, Miller 0-2, Pavlich 0-2, Kimsey 0-2, Tuttle 0-1, Hoelting 0-1). Turnovers: IL 7, IA 18. Assists: IL 8 (Reiley 2, Lieber 2), IA 11 (Pavlich 3). Steals: IL 11 (Brewer 3), IA 6 (Tuttle 2). Blocked shots: IL 2 (Nimrick 1, Daggett 1), IA 4 (Spelhaug 2). MVP: Emily Soy, North Scott.

3-point contest

Boys' semifinals (top two overall advance): Iowa: Matt Vonderhaar, Assumption, 15; Blain Samuelson, Davenport North, 14; Kain Artofer, Pleasant Valley, 13; Illinois: Trae Babers, Rock Island, 13; Jacob Johnston, Erie, 12; Jed Wood, Moline, 9. Finals: Samuelson 10, Vonderhaar 8.

Girls' semifinals (top two overall advance): Iowa: Morgan Pavlich, Assumption, 13; Lexi Spelhaug, Pleasant Valley, 7; Kate Fennelly, Assumption, 4; Illinois: Cassie Reiley, Prophetstown, 16; Sarah Hansen, Wethersfield, 13; Jessica Lieber, Galesburg, 8. 30-second shootout: Hansen 9, Pavlich 7. Finals: Reiley 11, Hansen 9.

Co-Ed championship: Reiley 15, Samuelson 4.